Thursday, November 29, 2007

Prayer is So Good!

Two things I've noticed about prayer this morning. I knew them both beforehand, but it is easy to see why Satan doesn't want us praying. First, when you begin the day in prayer, you'll notice a change in everything. A change in your attitude. A change in the attitude of others. A freshness of the new day--a renewal if you please. A confidence in the Lord. I could go on and on.
Second, if you have the opportunity to pray with shepherds like I have, what a wonderful experience it is. To paraphrase one of my elders. "Take away the dreams that I have for this church and fulfill Your dreams for this church." What a great attitude! What a tremendous humility. Now you can see why prayer does so much. It exposes what we're really like and it helps us to see what God is like.
So why don't we pray more? Good question. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Bride

Did you see the story of the Iraqi insurgent who dressed as a bride to try to get past a security checkpoint? Man, he was ugly! He had a big nose, stubbly face; he just didn't look like a bride. The only thing that resembled bridehood (is that a word?) was he was dressed in white and had flowers.
At the end of the book of Revelation, the church is described as "coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." I don't know about you, but I've worked with some churches that looked anything like beautiful. They may have been wearing a white dress, but the face was a dead giveaway. Snarly and mean. Judgmental and surly. Jesus, the bridegroom, deserves more than that. He deserves a bride who is loving, pure, and beautiful outside andinside. What is your contribution to that picture? I hope your day is a good one. JW

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's a wonderful day. It's Thanksgiving. I love this day for many reasons. It is my wish for you that your day is filled with good memories and family time. Gratitude is one of those things that is not an option for Christians. It's not what we do, it's who we are . It lies at the very core of our being. Spend some time thanking God, really thanking him for the many, many blessings you have. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

God Spoke

When I tell about these things, I'm sure there are those who think I'm nuts. But I still believe in this. Yesterday in our worship, we dedicated the entire services to being thankful. We prayed prayers of thanksgiving, we sang songs of being thankful, we read scriptures of praise. One time as we were singing Father of Mercies, something interesting happened. You know what it's like to have your eyes closed and then you sense lights getting brighter? That happened as we sang that song. I thought someone had turned up our lights in the auditorium. No, what happened was the sun came out and shown through our stained glass and it was brighter than usual. It was almost as if God was saying, "Good job! Thanks for being thankful." There have been a number of moments like this in my life. Some will say it was just a natural thing that happens in the course of nature. I chose to believe that God spoke. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I've Trained Her Well

I've trained her well. Here it is November 14th and the Christmas lights are coming up. The lights from the Jack-o-Lanterns aren't cold yet, and the Christmas trees and other decorations are evident. There is a holiday in between. In fact, it's really my favorite holiday.
What do you mean you've trained her well? My daughter, my 24-year-old married daughter was with us in the car last night as we drove past a house with the Christmas lights glowing. "It's Thanksgiving!" she yelled. (Really, she yelled.) Perhaps this is a symptom of our country. We've forgotten to say, "Thank you." Let's just go from dressing up like a fruit cake and go directly to the "show me the gifts." I was pleased to know that she still sees the Thanksgiving holiday as important. Please don't misunderstand me. I love Christmas, too! I just don't want to rush it.
Colossians 3:15 says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Thankful. Def. Thank--ful. Full of thanks. I'm glad my daughter still sees Thanksgiving. Shouldn't we all? Have a great day! JW

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bumper Sticker Theology

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, "God is too big to fit into any one religion." Here's the problem I have with that saying. And I think it may surprise you what I say. God's not concerned with religion anyway. God is concerned about hearts and what is spiritual. And I think, at least in our culture today, and perhaps it's always been this way, the two are very different.
I think the Jews of Jesus' day thought they were religious. Jesus told them, "You honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me." This is a quote from the Old Testament. In other words, they had the same problem then. I associate religion with rules and following the rules because they are the rules and you know what happens when you don't follow the rules. Maybe this is faulty thinking, but it's where I am. Jesus spent the entire Sermon the Mount saying that it's not about the rules. You can follow all the rules and still not be spiritual.
That's why I have a problem with the bumper sticker. Perhaps we need to understand that God doesn't fit into religion....period. It doesn't have anything to do with Him being too big. It's not what He wants in the first place. I hope your day is a good one.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Keep Me From Judging

People disappoint. They do things they shouldn't do. They say things they shouldn't say. My initial reaction is to lash out. Tell them what they are doing wrong. Insist that they reverse, retract, and repent. Then a haunting verse enters my mind.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Now I understand this statement. Perhaps all too well. But I know we do and we have to make judgments daily. Motivation is a key element in this. We can never know why somebody does what they do. We can't read minds, we can only see fruit. What bothers me is the last part of the verse. ...with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

So I try to see people through God's eyes. I try to allow grace and mercy to follow. Sometimes it's just impossible. So I allow God to be God and I take my rightful place as a clod of dirt. A clod of dirt, mind you, that God loves totally. And I back off. And I look forward to the day when I don't live in this fallen world anymore. Fatalistic? Absolutely not! Faith filled? Yes! I hope your day is good....and full of faith and hope. JW

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

No Contract, No Shows!

I really don't have a dog in the hunt. I watch so little network TV that the recent writer's strike really is not going to have much effect on me. The only possibility is the late night shows. I get a kick from Leno and Letterman and O'Brien. But when I heard that as a result of the strike there would be more (un)reality shows, I nearly choked. Best I can figure, this is about money (isn't it always?) and something to do with internet and other things. Frankly, it doesn't matter much to me.
What I find amusing is these are writers who are on strike, right? I saw them on the picket line with their signs and they were chanting. Here's what they were saying, "No contract, No shows; No contract, No shows." Now c'mon! They're writers! Couldn't they be a whole lot more creative than that? You could at least have a black screen and a deep, movie voice kind of guy saying, "They say they're not willing to pay....but pay they will." Then you have that little bumper music thing from CSI and then, in slow motion show them carrying picket signs. Hey, at least show a little creativity even in rebellion mode. Or maybe that would include the sound guild or the picture guild. Oh, it gets too complicated.
Sorry for the rant. Aren't you glad your life is based on whether or not the writers are on strike? Have a great day. JW

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Last Saturday I was perusing our local newspaper and saw where there was an exhibit in town for the 9-11 memorial being built in New York City. We decided to go and see and we were not disappointed. As I saw those terrible pictures and heard the horrifying stories, tears welled up in my eyes. Six years removed we have forgotten the agony of that day and the months that followed. Now the event is politicized until it's nearly unrecognizable.
What I saw in those pictures and in that presentation were people. People who had lives and families and dreams. People whose lives were snuffed out for no apparent reason except for a blind hate for what the West stands for. It helped me to realize anew that the world needs a Savior. It needs Jesus so much.
My wife and I signed a beam that will be used in the memorial being built on the spot where the World Trade Centers stood. In reality, that doesn't really matter. Instead, the autograph of Jesus on the hearts of men and women in this world would make a difference that would last for all eternity.
I've written about attending church services at the Manhattan Church of Christ just one month before the first anniversary of that horrible event. I still remember one of the songs they sang that day.

Where cross the crowded ways of life, Where sound the cries of race and clan,
Above the noise of selfish strife, We hear Thy voice, O Son of man!

In haunts of wretchedness and need, On shadowed thresholds dark with fears,
From paths where hide the lures of greed, We catch the vision of Thy tears.

The cup of water giv'n for Thee still holds the freshness of Thy grace;
Yet long these multitudes to see the sweet compassion of Thy face.

O Master, from the mountain side, Make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
Among these restless throngs abide, O tread the city's streets again.

That last phrase caught me...especially while singing just a mere distance from where it all happened. "O tread the city's streets again." Wow. Let it be so. I hope your day is good. JW